Monthly Archives: January 2014

Dealing with PTSD: Self-Help Techniques

PTSD

In this post I am going to tell you about some self-help techniques that will help you to deal with your PTSD. If you want to know more about the symptoms and risk factors check out my previous post: “An Introduction to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)”. PTSD is usually connected to an overwhelming traumatic event, it is very important to effectively cope up with the physical and psychological repercussions of a traumatic life event. Those who think that with time and tide everything will eventually heal let me tell you that this works for only a few chunks of people. Others just keep on sulking over the physical and emotional wounds for their entire lifetime. So let’s see some of the effective ways that will help you to successfully cope with PTSD and its symptoms.

1. Let it out!

When you face a traumatic event, do not hold up, seclude or hide your emotions. Let your pains come out. If you want to cry out loud, then do not hesitate to do so. Crying out loud will allow a vent to all the pent-up negative emotions. I have seen many people who say that if they cry then people will feel that they are emotionally weak. But, hey! It’s the other way round. Shedding your tears will make you much more emotionally stronger and well-prepared to deal with any ebb and tide of life. Like happiness and anger, sadness is also a basic and significant human emotion. So do not vacillate from it.

2. Safe and healthy foods

If you have read my blog on “Foods that boost our moods”…then understanding this point will be easier for you. When you feel sad, low, traumatized and shattered it is quite obvious that you will not feel like eating anything for days and days. It happens and it’s natural. However, the truth is if you eat a balanced diet or certain foods that increase your body’s feel good hormones you can save yourself from the negative psychological effects of the traumatic event. I am not saying you to go ahead and party…but at least you can have green leafy veggies, some fruits, salads, etc. I have seen people who start taking drugs, caffeine, alcohol to get rid of the pain and trauma. But, they don’t understand that these things are silently and slowly killing them. If you really want to come out of a trauma, then help yourself with safe and healthy foods. Stay away from drugs, booze and caffeinated drinks. They just elate you for a moment but silently eat up your body and mind too.

3. Don’t let a loss overpower you

When I lost my father when I was in grade 6, my life ceased. I was a high achiever at school; I earned prizes in performing arts, painting, etc. But, after my father deceased…I stopped doing everything. My grades fell like anything, my teachers became sick and tired of motivating me to do all the stuff that I once liked. Things and times changed when my mother inspired me to stand on my feet once again. She said that maybe my Dad cannot come back, but I can keep him alive by achieving the dreams and aspirations that he had for me. From that day till today, I am trying my level best to achieve this. After that day I never looked back. My grades started increasing again, I won a State-level award in Fine Arts, and I even won an All-Rounder Award too. Life never sank after that loss. It is true that what you loss after a traumatic event cannot be brought back, but whether you let that event eat up your whole life, that depends on you. Do not let a loss overpower you. Make that loss give you a hundred and one accolades….at least for the sake of the thing or person you lost. Somewhere in some part of heaven that aspect or that person would be a smiling star by seeing you smile and shine.

4. Don’t run away from the pain or problem

If you simply deny or avoid a pain, it will ooze out in some or the other form either today or tomorrow. Do not avoid your pain and suffering. Feel it, face it and tackle it. The more you try to run away from a pain or problem, the more it will keep haunting and troubling you. In some cases, it may get buried somewhere in some corner of your heart or mind. But, hey dude! It’s only temporary. Sooner or later it will erupt again. So the best way to effectively deal with the effect of a traumatic event is to face it and deal with it. Just for once, and it’s done!

5. Share your sadness and happiness

It is said that happiness shared is happiness doubled, and sadness shared is sadness halved. Therefore, when you feel sad and forlorn share it with someone who understands you. Try to help a needy person. If you look at the ones who are in a lower plane than you, you will get a lot of strength. Of course, your pain and suffering cannot be compared. But, sharing your feelings with someone or making someone feel better will eventually make you feel better too.

Life is not a fair journey. If there are gains, there are losses too. PTSD can be prevented or dealt with if you build hope, trust on your inner strength and take effectual steps ahead. If the symptoms become too much chronic then you should see a psychologist or a psychiatrist for help.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

An Introduction to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Roaring sound of a speeding train, the vibrating railway tracks and platform, the sound of the train honk. It still gives me a jitter and immense pain. 16 years have passed since I lost my beloved father in a rail-road accident in front of my own eyes. We lost our father, I sustained major injuries. Not a single train journey after that has been an easy task for me since then. During the earlier days I used to feel panicky and stressed out in each and every train journey. The memories and bitter experiences of the fateful day would flash in front of my eyes on and off. Today, after so many years…the panicky and maladaptive responses have receded. But, the emotional scars are yet to be buried.

Like me, many of you would be struggling with the painful memories and the psychophysical repercussions of a traumatic event. Technically, this is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It occurs when the traumatic event becomes too overwhelming to bear for someone. It also occurs when you cannot effectively cope up with a traumatic life event.

PTSD symptoms and risk factors

Here is a symptom checklist below that epitomizes the physical and psychological issues a person with PTSD faces. PTSD sometimes increases the risk factors of other mental health issues too. Therefore, an early diagnosis and treatment of the same is very important.

Sypmtoms of PTSD

Physiological Symptoms Psychological Symptoms
Increased heart rate Anxiety
Palpitations Stress
Increased skin sensitivity Increased tension
Respiratory problems Insomnia
Profused sweating Depression
Speech problems Apathy
Trembling /Shaking Emotional sensitivity
Changes in eating habits Anger/aggression/hostility
Tremors Isolation
Dry mouth Lack of interest
Frequent urination Intense flashbacks
Changes in bowel control Problems in memory, attention and concentration

PTSD and Risk Factors

Sometimes PTSD leads to other mental and physiological health problems. The disorders that can exist as a co-morbid illness along with PTSD are:

  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Self-harm or harming others
  • Eating disorders
  • Clinical Depression
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Muscular pains
  • Neurochemical imbalance

When we face a traumatic situation, most of our well-wishers and relatives try to console us. This is good, I am not against it. When I am in deep pain or despair I also need someone by my side. I have seen many relatives saying that “time is the best healer”. Well, this is also true. But, not always! You never know how hard a trauma strikes into the chords of your heart and mind. If you waste your time ignoring the signals and symptoms then the best healer can turn into a worst killer. So when you or any of your near n dear ones face a traumatic event, do not let the scars or wounds open. It is necessary to heal the emotional/mental wounds too. Even at the slightest feeling of the symptoms I had mentioned above, try to seek medical assistance or the help of a psychologist/psychiatrist as soon as possible.

Life is a rough and tough journey. It has never been easy for any one. We all need to travel through it through the storms, obstacles, pits and ditches. Victory and happiness will be ours only when we fall down and rise up with all our might. Sorrows and pains are quite natural. We cannot avoid it. But, with effective strategies you can surely deal with it successfully. The main Mantra to deal with PTSD is: Face the trauma, do not let the physical and mental wounds open, deal with the issues and resolve them as soon as you can. It is the unresolved and unsettled silt of pains that sinks down and prick you as PTSD symptoms from time to time.

When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others. Don’t get mad when someone does that. Be honored. For that person trusted you enough to, even if subtly, ask you for help.” – Lori Goodwin

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

The psycho-spiritual science of forgiving

forgive

It is said that the one who forgives is always on a higher plane than the one who does any mistake. In fact, the act of forgiving requires a lot of patience, understanding, insight and deep-rooted value system. Not everyone can have the guts to forgive or ask for forgiveness. In the words of Catherine Ponder, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

The act of forgiving not only makes us emotionally strong but also clears the negative ripples of anger, resentment, hatred and anguish that torment us time and again. However, in the modern era, forgiving has become a rare phenomenon. The act of revenge is seen raising its ugly head everywhere. This culminates in the breach of peace, brotherhood, depression, violence, harming each other, crime, drudgery and death. Today we have time to earn materialistic pursuits, but rarely we have time to think and retrospect about the value and aim of life, positive qualities, the importance of relationships and societal well-being as a whole. In fact, the value of forgiving should be inculcated right from the formative years of learning. Gradually, with practice and understanding this value turns out to be a precious gem in the life of an individual. It makes him strong, understanding, patient, insightful, loving, caring, conscientious, responsible, moral, truthful and affectionate. In a nutshell, the act of forgiving leads to the all-round development of a individual, his fellow human beings and the entire creation in a toto.

Forgiving has a lot of psychophysical benefits like:

  • A sense of peace, tranquility and contentment
  • Free from negative emotions and thoughts towards self as well as others
  • Enhancement in the dimensions of value-system, moral and ethical outlook, level of insight, richness of heart and goodwill towards each other
  • Freedom from mental agonies, prejudice, discrimination and stereotypical attitude
  • Chemical balance in the body and brain
  • Refinement of the soul, and so on

Therefore, forgiving as well as asking for forgiveness has innumerable positive effects. Looking on to the spiritual realm of the body, psyche and soul the law of forgiving has even more significance and involves a wide array of psychophysical mechanisms. The human body has an electromagnetic field in and around it, usually known as the “Aura System”. Apart from the biological composition, our bodies are divided into three levels, they are:

  • The physical body
  • The gross body
  • The subtle body

These levels comprise of the dimensions of body, mind and spirit. Moreover, there are seven energy systems too. These energy systems are known as “Chakras”. The chakras play a vital role in creation, maintaining and nurturing the three elements i.e. the body, mind and soul. On a physical level, if the brain and spinal cord are the centers of pivotal activities, similarly on the spiritual level the chakras are the centers of power, emotions, energy, knowledge, wisdom and overall well-being.

Following is a representation of the seven chakras and their functions:

Chakra Physical Manifestation No. of petals Elements Controls Qualities Place on hand
Mooladhar Pelvic plexus 4 Earth Excretion and reproductive organs Innocence,Wisdom,Fearlessness Heel of palm
Swadishthan Aortic plexus 6 Fire Kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas, intestines, uterus Creativity, pure attention, pure desire , pure knowledge Thumb
Nabhi Navel 10 Water Stomach, intestines, liver, spleen Seeking, peace, generosity, satisfaction, attention and caring nature Middle finger
Heart Cardiac plexus 12 Air Heart, lungs, sternum bone Joy, compassion, love, responsibility, security Little finger
Vishuddhi Cervical plexus 16 Sky/ether or space Neck, arms, face, tongue, mouth, nose, teeth, thyroid Sweetness of communication, detachment, diplomacy, collectivity, respect and brotherhood First finger
Agnya Optic chiasma 2 light Pineal body / pituitary gland, eyesight, memory, mind Forgiveness Ring finger
Sahasrar Limbic area of the brain 1000 Overall Joy, union with the Divine, collective consciousness Center of palm

When a person bows down and asks for forgiveness and when a person accepts his apology humbly and imparts forgiveness their energy systems get connected to each other through their aura systems and this starts the working mechanism of the chakras. According to the emotions, words spoken, and stimulus the chakras start evolving energies with respect to their qualities, gradually they start acting over the various body controls and transform the thought and behavior duo from a negative plane to a positive side. Eventually, with a coordinated work of the energy/chakra systems bodies, minds, and spirits of the forgiver and the person who asks for forgiveness get energized and show their positive as well as tranquilizing impact on the body and brain.

Thus, forgiveness whether it is given or asked for never leads to degeneration of man. In fact, it has a healing effect on each and every entity of a person resulting in health, happiness, peace and wisdom. Even if forgiving someone or asking for forgiveness may seem to be a Herculean task depending on the personality, thought processes and situations, but sometimes this small single step can make a big difference in our lives, It can make the heart lighter and illumine a bright spark of smile in and around us.

So folks happy forgiving!

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

Therapeutic journal writing & its benefits

Writing

As a CBT therapist, one of the core therapy inputs I prescribe my clients is the “Journal Writing Method”. Almost all of us do some kind of scribbling, writing, doodling in our daily lives. However, many of you won’t know the right way of journal writing or diary writing. Some write for a passion, some right out of creativity, while some write in order to shed their emotions out.

Benefits:

From a therapeutic point of view, journal writing has many benefits. Some of them are:

  • It acts as a vent for pent-up emotions
  • It initiates clarity of expression
  • It helps in self-recognition, rejuvenation and motivation
  • It improves memory, concentration and eye-hand coordination
  • It helps release negative energies, negative thoughts and maladaptive cognitive processes.

Method of Journal Writing:

If you are someone who likes innovative ways of expressing your emotions, you can maintain a journal that is filled with creative pictures, photos, poems and so on. You can use the pen-paper mode here. However, if you are someone who likes to maintain your privacy…you can opt for the online mode of journal writing.

STEP 1 – CATHARSIS:
Write about anything and everything that comes to your mind or creating negative/positive state in your mind. This step acts as a vent to the pent-up emotions or feelings within you and makes your mind lighter.

STEP 2 – TARGETED THINKING:
Write about the most important thing that has been running in your mind throughout the day. It could be a long lost memory, or any situation created in the present day, about a remark by a person. Anything that tends to disturb or excite your mind throughout.

STEP 3 – UNRESOLVED ISSUES AND AIM:
We should try to fix any unresolved issue of the day related to any person or situation. Because if it lingers for a longer time, then we will be literally churned by it time and again. Therefore it is always wise to resolve the issue then and there. If the issue is not resolved or if its next to impossible to resolve then the mental blockage related to it should be taken out of the mind immediately. Thats why while diary entry you need to write down the mental block related to the unresolved issue.

STEP 4 – PLANNING:
The next stage is to write about your long term and short term plans = things you want to achieve or want to happen. Make strategic plans to achieve you goals , both short and long-term.

STEP 5 – CELEBRATION:
Write words of praise for yourself and celebrate even the smallest accomplishment / success of the day.

Journal writing, if done on a regular basis, can have immensely positive effects. No matter how busy you are, how tired you are or how emotionally broken down you are…just take some “me” time for you and jot down some lines. You will see a positive difference.

So folks, keep writing and stay fit.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

Self-trust: Do you trust yourself enough?

self-trust_low

When I see a bird flying high in the blue skies, a sapling peeping out of the strong soil, an ant carrying food double than its weight, sea waves crushing down sturdy rocks…I ask myself do I trust myself enough to bring out a significant change in my life or somebody else’s life? Today I wanna ask the same question to everyone who is reading this blog post out there. Do you trust yourself? When was the last time you listened to your inner voice, followed your instinct and marched forward?

The answer is maybe when we were small kids, when we were successful and had not tasted failure in life, when our parents, peers, siblings, co-workers loved us, accepted us unconditionally, right? The question is given these situations apart, why do we stop believing in ourselves and lose self-trust? Self-trust is not only a great virtue but a very precious treasure too. Without it you may not have a distinct definition and uniqueness, without it there would be no aspirations, no motivation or no chasing behind dreams.

Self-trust has many beneficial effects in your life:

  •  A well-defined self-image, self-esteem and self-confidence
  •  A systematic and definite goal in life
  •  Motivation and drive to excel in your life
  •  Strength to face all the odds and evens
  •  Insight development and leadership qualities
  •  Optimism and conscientiousness
  •  Good level of balance in everything
  •  Effective decision-making skills
  •  Sound physical and mental health
  •  Good interpersonal relationships and locus of control
  •  Physical, psychological and social well-being

Self-trust, when broken down can have fatal effect in your life. Self-trust tends to break due to manifold reasons. Some of them are failures, inconsistencies, faulty coping with failures and challenging situations, negative behavior or non-acceptance of family, peers and significant others, faulty parenting, stress, anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking, negative thinking and so on.

A broken self-trust can lead to:

  •  Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
  •  Failure and lack of proper co-ordination of things and events
  •  No definite aim, self-recognition, insight, etc
  •  Mental unrest and tension
  •  Frustration, anxiety, depression, etc
  •  No motivation to do things
  •  Spoiled or unstable interpersonal relationships
  •  Hardships in personal and social life

How to keep your self-trust intact:

  •  Believe in yourself, your inner voice and instincts
  •  Build up a good level of self-confidence and esteem
  •  Work on your personality development
  •  Stay balanced in both appreciation and criticism
  •  Be a good learner
  •  Be genuine and don’t be so sensitive towards situations
  •  Take challenges as stepping stones rather than obstacles
  •  Celebrate your success and learn from failures

So folks, do hold on to your belief in yourself no matter who you are or where you are. Self-treasure is a boon or a valuable gift in your life. Once it is broken it is very difficult to keep it intact, though not impossible. Do not let others or situations overpower you. Believe in yourself, believe in your inner voice, be good, do well and believe in the best…

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Introduction, Methodology and Benefits of CBT

CBT - the basics

Anyone who heads into our website and services comes in terms with a key word; CBT. Though some of you already know about it, however for many this acronym is still a big question mark. This blog post focuses on what CBT is, how it is done and how it benefits one and all.

The full form of the acronym is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It is one of the most effective psychological therapies available so far. In the generic sense of the term, CBT refers to a psychotherapeutic technique in which a therapist addressed the dysfunctional and maladaptive thought and behavior patterns. Unlike, other forms of psychotherapies, CBT is a wholesome technique that focuses both on the thought processes and the behavior of a person as well. So whenever you or your near and dear ones need psychological help, I would say the best thing to do would be to approach a CBT therapist. If a CBT therapist is not available in your area, then you can go for Online CBT treatment.

CBT is considered to be most beneficial as it works on the soma and psyche of a person. That is, it works both on the body and the mind. It refines maladaptive thought patterns, and motivates you towards fruitful actions.

CBT – Working System/Methodology:

Though CBT modules, therapists, modes may differ there are six common steps or phases in CBT interventions. They are:

  • Psychological assessment: The therapist would do an intensive assessment of your problems/symptoms, so that a correct diagnosis can be made.
  • Reconceptualization: After assessment and diagnosis, the therapist would help you to re-conceptualize your maladaptive, unhealthy or faulty thinking patterns, symptoms, etc.
  • Skills Acquisition: This is the phase where behavioral dimension of your life enters. In this phase the therapist would help you to acquire healthy behavior patterns so that you can deal effectively with your potential problems and symptoms. In this phase many symptoms also fade off.
  • Skills Consolidation and Application Training: After you have acquired all the necessary skills, it is important to put them in a definite framework for you, otherwise everything may just spill off. This phase imparts a definite shape and stability to your newly acquired skills.
  • Maintenance: Once skills are refined, developed and shaped maintaining them is also very necessary. If you won’t keep on practicing the acquired skills then everything you have learned in CBT sessions may just fade off. For long term stable effects of therapies it is very important that everything you learn in the CBT sessions are practiced and persevered.
  • Follow up: Even after your CBT sessions are over, usually your therapist won’t leave you alone. Follow ups are a regular routine to keep you intact and in touch with the therapies, to ensure your well-being and sound health.

Modes of CBT Access:

You can get access to CBT through various modes with the help of a CBT therapist, group therapy, computerized CBT, self-help books, etc. However, the most beneficial CBT mode these days is Computerized CBT or online CBT. Now let us see some benefits of Online CBT:

Benefits of Online CBT:

  • Highly confidential
  • Economic and time-consuming
  • Safeguards your privacy, dignity and integrity
  • You can opt for the computerized version or video version according to your sweet will
  • You can continue the sessions at your own pace
  • No traffic, no moving out your comfortable couch
  • You can save the sessions and use them even after the CBT process ends
  • Therapists are available 24/7 in accordance with your time zone
  • Personalized and customized with regard to your unique, personal needs
  • Follow up system also available

Advantages of CBT over other therapies:

  • All-round therapy system
  • Focus on both physical and psychological aspects of your problems and systems
  • Focus on thought processes as well as behavioral patterns
  • Easy to inculcate in daily life
  • Has enduring effects if practiced regularly
  • The results are evidence-based that you can yourself observe
  • Client-specific i.e based on your specific therapy needs
  • A strong support system
  • Development of healthy thought-behavior patterns
  • Development of a well-defined sense of self and insight
  • Equips you to resist further maladaptive symptoms or behavior
  • Highly beneficial in prevention
  • Economic and time saving
  • Focused treatment
  • Contributes to overall well-being and health

Be it CBT or any other therapy technique you need to remember some crucial things: It is only by regularity in practicing of therapies, creatively using your therapies, clear communication with your therapist, determination, and perseverance you can achieve your therapy expectations and destination of good physical and mental health.

So stay happy, stay healthy.

Best Wishes,

Sareeta

Resolutions for the New Year…

new-years-resolution

The New Year is an advent of a new dawn of new possibilities, novel opportunities, immense hope and deep faith. That is why New Year resolutions have their own significance. But, always remember one thing that the moment you open your inner eye, that itself is a new beginning. In that case, there’s no need to depend on any particular date or temporal aspect.

I made resolutions every year, and happily failed in sticking to my resolutions. Do you know why? It’s because I did not know the significance of a New Year Resolution, I did not have that perseverance to keep the flame of my resolutions burning and a small blunder or challenge in the path of accomplishing my resolutions demotivated me to the core. It is only when I grew up and saw life with greater precision, I realized the need of a resolution; I realized its magical effects and its worth. I wanted to share the same with all of you, so that your New Year can begin with magical effects of resolutions and well-being. In a generic way, you can make a resolution during any part of the year, hour of the day that is convenient to you.

In a psychological perspective, Resolutions are important since they strengthen the sub-conscious realm of the mind; they instill motivation and push us towards fruitful actions. Resolutions, thus, work on our mental framework and modify our behavior patterns to accomplish our desired goals. In other words, resolutions are strong messages to the brain in order to bring out a stable positive change in thoughts and behavior.

To make the new year more energized, goals more clear and attainable, here are the top 10 New Year Resolutions that you can implement in your day-to-day life. They will help you to achieve higher dimensions of good health, prosperity, hazzle-free life, mental well-being and overall vitality ‘n’ vigor:

  1. I am worthwhile and unique in my own self
  2. I am created for a meaningful purpose in life. I will work on recognizing and achieving it
  3. From now on my goals, dreams and aspirations will be for the betterment of my own self, for my near and dear ones and for the entire society as a whole
  4. I am healthy, happy and delightful
  5. No matter how I look or what others feel for me, my inner being is pure and beautiful
  6. I have a lot of potentialities within me. I will harness them and utilize them in a positive way
  7. No challenge can pull me back. I will use every obstacle and difficulty as a stepping stone and move forward
  8. Life may take blind diversions and become unfair, I will try my level best to come off it
  9. I will work on alleviating my weaknesses and strengthen my strengths
  10. I will learn from my failures and setbacks, I will focus on my present and work on making my future bright

How to make and achieve resolutions:

1)     Set clear goals on what you want to achieve in the upcoming year and future

2)     Motivate yourself to achieve your goals no matter what

3)     Each morning plan your day, and try to move a step forward towards attaining your resolution

4)     At night, take a look back and see where did you lack in your actions, work on them and move forward

5)     Celebrate your achievements no matter how small they are.

Do not be too rigid in the process or towards yourself. Each day will have its own ups and downs. Just take baby steps forward. Sooner or later you will be there. Life may manifest itself with thorns and stones on its way. You may even fall a number of times. In these situations don’t stop your journey. Grab up all your strength, get up and keep walking….99% of people may have many reasons for their failures and problems. The 1% of the people who make it to the top are the ones who never stop their efforts, who do not get disheartened with their problems, and who believe in themselves.

 My best wishes to each one of you on the New Year. May all your cherished dreams and aspirations come true…Keep smiling and keep shining!

Best Wishes,

Sareeta